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COVID-19 and Policy Responses by International Organizations: Crisis of Liberal International Order or Window of Opportunity?

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The liberal international order is being challenged and international organizations (IOs) are a main target of contestation. COVID-19 seems to exacerbate the situation with many states pursuing domestic strategies at the expense of multilateral cooperation. At the same time, IOs have traditionally benefited from cross-border crises. This article analyzes the policy responses of IOs to the exogenous COVID-19 shock by asking why some IOs use this crisis as an opportunity to expand their scope and policy instruments? It provides a cross-sectional analysis using original data on the responses of 75 IOs to COVID-19 during the first wave between March and June 2020. It finds that the bureaucratic capacity of IOs is significant when it comes to using the crisis as an opportunity. It also finds some evidence that the number of COVID-19 cases among the member states affects policy responses and that general purpose IOs have benefited more.
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COVID-19 and Policy Responses by
International Organizations: Crisis of Liberal
International Order or Window of Opportunity?
Maria Josepha Debre
University of Potsdam
Hylke Dijkstra
Maastricht University
The liberal international order is being challenged and international organizations (IOs) are a main target of contestation.
COVID-19 seems to exacerbate the situation with many states pursuing domestic strategies at the expense of multilateral
cooperation. At the same time, IOs have traditionally beneted from cross-border crises. This article analyzes the policy
responses of IOs to the exogenous COVID-19 shock by asking why some IOs use this crisis as an opportunity to expand their
scope and policy instruments? It provides a cross-sectional analysis using original data on the responses of 75 IOs to COVID-
19 during the rst wave between March and June 2020. It nds that the bureaucratic capacity of IOs is signicant when it
comes to using the crisis as an opportunity. It also nds some evidence that the number of COVID-19 cases among the mem-
ber states affects policy responses and that general purpose IOs have beneted more.
Policy Implications
International organizations have responded very differently to COVID-19. Evidence from 75 international organizations
shows that those with broad policy objectives have further expanded their scope and instruments. International organiza-
tions with a narrow focus have stuck to existing instruments.
Bureaucratic capacity explains the ability of international organizations to use crises as an opportunity for institutional
development. It is imperative that member states further invest in the bureaucratic capacity of international organizations,
particularly in professional staff, to handle future crises.
When considering future reforms of international organizations, member states should focus on strengthening the compe-
tences of the executive bodies to initiate policy to help organizations work better during crises.
As we exit the pandemic it is tempting to concentrate on domestic affairs, including revisiting healthcare and pandemic
response systems, but policy makers are advised to further develop global governance in these areas as well. While
COVID-19 was initially seen as a major challenge to the liberal international order, it may well result in a deepening of glo-
bal governance in the longer term.
1. At a critical juncture
The liberal international order is in crisis and international
organizations (IOs) are a main target of contestation.
Increasing politicization in combination with member states
cutting resources, withdrawing from institutions, or setting
up alternative venues for cooperation has impacted IOs in
profound ways (e.g. von Borzykowski and Vabulas, 2019;
Hale et al., 2013; Patz and Goetz, 2019; Z
urn, 2018). The
exogenous shock of COVID-19 has further exacerbated pres-
sures with many states pursuing domestic strategies at the
expense of multilateral cooperation. Academics and pundits
have therefore been quick to characterize COVID-19 as yet
another blow to the liberal international order (e.g. Kahl and
Wright, 2021; Kenwick and Simmons, 2020; Mahbubani,
2020; Norrl
of, 2020a, 2020b). At the same time, we know
that IOs are often created exactly to address cross-border
problems (e.g. Rittberger et al., 2019) and that they regularly
benet from crises (Kreuder-Sonnen, 2019; Monnet, 1978;
Olsson and Verbeek, 2018; Schimmelfennig, 2018).
This article analyzes the policy responses of 75 major IOs
in the context of the exogenous COVID-19 shock by asking
why some IOs use this crisis as an opportunity to expand
their scope and policy instruments, whereas other IOs use
existing instruments or barely engage with COVID-19 at all?
The purpose is not to assess the effectiveness of IOs, but
rather to examine whether IOs proactively used this exoge-
nous shock as an opportunity to expand their activities dur-
ing the rst wave between March and June 2020. Even
though the COVID-19 crisis continues to date, we assume
Global Policy (2021) 12:4 doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12975 ©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use,
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Global Policy Volume 12 . Issue 4 . September 2021 443
Research Article
that the initial responses of IOs were essential because criti-
cal junctures are brief moments in time and future develop-
ments with regard to legalization of policy expansions are
likely path dependent on these initial responses (Ger-
schewski, 2021; Pierson, 2000). There are also rst-mover
advantages that affect how global governance gets reor-
In line with research on international public administra-
tion, this article shows that the bureaucratic capacity of IOs
is signicant when it comes to providing continuity of oper-
ations and using the crisis as an opportunity: IOs with large
secretariats are more likely to expand their scope and policy
instruments in response to COVID-19. Such IOs may be able
to reassign staff to work on crisis response, are more likely
to have relevant in-house expertise, and can put forward
policy proposals. We also nd some evidence that IOs with
delegated agenda-setting authority are better at using the
crisis as an opportunity. While the operations of most IOs
are affected by COVID-19, we also control for differences
between IOs with regard their likelihood to respond to the
crisis. We nd, in this respect, that general purpose IOs are
more likely to expand their scope and instruments com-
pared to task-specic IOs (cf. Hooghe et al., 2019). We also
nd some evidence that the number of COVID-19 cases
among IO members helps to explain IO responses. We do
not nd, however, that IOs with mandates in heavily
affected policy elds such as health, trade, and border man-
agement are more likely to expand.
The article rst conceptualizes policy responses of IOs and
maps how 75 major IOs varied in trying to expand their
scope and policy instruments during the initial crisis months
from March until the end of the study period in June 2020.
It then derives two sets of institutional hypotheses to
explain observed variation in policy responses, discusses
research design, and operationalizes the variables. The
empirical section provides an ordered logit model that tests
all hypotheses and shows the signicance of large secretari-
ats in explaining the expansion of scope and policy instru-
ments. The article concludes by reecting on the
consequences of these ndings for the state of the liberal
international order.
2. Policy responses by IOs during COVID-19
Crises are commonly considered important moments in
organizational history because they offer opportunities to
change organizational processes (Boin et al., 2016). Punctu-
ated equilibrium theory (PET), in particular, focuses on insti-
tutional change as a result of an exogenous shock with a
short-term time horizon (Gerschewski, 2021). This makes
COVID-19 an excellent test case, since it is clearly exogenous
and required an immediate response by many IOs. COVID-
19 will, of course, also have longer-term consequences. Yet
in the short-term, exogenous shocks have the potential to
set institutions on a new track, or can also simply represent
opportunities to change direction and branch out from an
original path (Gerschewski, 2021; see also on PET: Baumgart-
ner and Jones, 1993, Colgan et al., 2012; Lundgren et al.,
2018). Thus, choices made by IOs, during the brief initial
window after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March
2020, can induce self-reinforcing processes and canalize
future developments down a new path. IOs may also benet
from rst-mover advantages in a crowed global governance
landscape. Conversely, if IOs did not act during the rst
wave, they have little to build on to induce a long-term pro-
cess of institutional change.
We are thus interested in institutional change as a result
of COVID-19 and not policy effectiveness. We understand
therefore the concept of policy response as any measure
taken up by an IO bureaucracy to deal with the pandemic.
We are particularly interested whether this has resulted in
proposals for an expanded scope of action and/or new policy
instruments (Hooghe et al., 2019; Koremenos et al., 2001,
2001). Thus, policy responses encompass both the tasks per-
formed by the institution, including in new policy areas, as
well as employed instruments such as funding mechanisms,
coordination tools, databases, research lines, or training pro-
grams. Our concept does not, however, cover policies that
IOs have taken up to manage their internal operations such
as regulations on remote work.
To give an example, the European Commission has nego-
tiated collective agreements with pharmaceutical compa-
nies on vaccines. The European Union has furthermore
agreed to a 100bln euro temporary unemployment scheme.
It has also made available existing policy instruments such
as the European Stability Mechanism for health purposes
and has agreed to a new 750bln euro recovery fund
nanced through joint debt. In other words, the EU has
clearly increased its policy scope into the areas of health
and social policy while using existing and newly developed
policy instruments (see Brooks and Geyer, 2020; Ladi and
Tsarouhas, 2020; Wolff and Ladi, 2020). The World Trade
Organization (WTO), on the other hand, only offered some
updates on trade statistics in response to the pandemic.
Even though it remains the focal institution for world trade,
which was heavily affected by COVID-19, it thus did not
expand its policy scope nor did it develop new policy instru-
IO responses during the rst wave of the COVID-19 crisis
can be divided into three categories. First, some IOs essen-
tially shut down or merely issued declaratory statements
without really responding to COVID-19. Second, some IOs
managed to perform their established tasks with existing
instruments. Third, some IOs were able to take on new tasks
and/or initiative new policy instruments, as the example of
the EU shows (see Table 1 for coding examples). We code
policy responses on a six-point scale, with IOs that have not
responded at all to COVID-19 coded as zero and IOs that
have only issued a discursive response as low (1). IOs that
are fullling their established tasks or/and use established
policy instruments are coded as low-medium (2) and med-
ium (3), and as high (4) and very high (5) if they are taking
on new tasks or/and have initiated new policy instruments
(see Table A and B, Appendix for full coding of all IOs; we
also perform a robustness check with a three-point scale:
low, medium, high, see Table C, Appendix).
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
We have coded policy responses for all IOs included in
the Measuring International Authority (MIA) dataset by
Hooghe et al. (2017). These are the 78 politically most rele-
vant IOs since 1950.
To code policy responses, we have
consulted the websites of all IOs to gather information on
their activities since the start of the pandemic in March
2020 until the end of the study period in June 2020. We
observe that most IO responses were formulated during
April and early May and consider that after June 2020 the
initial window of opportunity had passed. Many IOs obvi-
ously remain active in dealing with COVID-19, but the critical
juncture which could set IOs on new paths is over. Relying
on online data gathering might not cover all daily practices.
Nevertheless, it helps to capture a snapshot of IO capacity
to communicate actions online, and thus also serves as a
proxy to measure how well IOs are able to keep up policy
We nd that 22 IOs did not respond to COVID-19 at all
during the rst wave or only issued statements about the
importance of the pandemic for their policy eld (coded 0
or 1) (see Figure 1). While many of these are task-specic
IOs, which we would not necessarily expect to be heavily
affected by COVID-19 (e.g. the International Whaling Com-
mission), there are several economic and trading IOs (e.g.
International Coffee Board) as well as regional organizations
(e.g. CEMAC) that are dealing with policy elds directly hit
by COVID-19.
The majority of IOs (35) used their existing policy instru-
ments and/or stayed within their existing scope to deal with
the challenges (coded 2 or 3). They collected data, offered
webinars, or coordinated between member states. An exam-
ple is the Universal Postal Union (UPU), which had to deal
with the fact that international postal services were heavily
disrupted. In May 2020, only one-in-two postal items
reached their international destination due to the cancella-
tion of passenger ights (Universal Postal Union, 2020). The
response of the UPU largely focused on providing analysis
and expertise, sharing best practices, and initiating small
projects such as delivering personal protective equipment to
United Nations (UN) eld operations.
Table 1. Examples of coding for six IOs by policy instruments and scope
IO name Policy instruments Coding Policy scope Coding Scale
Union (EU) -Temporary unemployment scheme
-Recovery fund nanced through
joint debt
-European Stability Mechanism
for health purposes
New policy
instruments -Health
-Social policy
Scope expansion Very high
Fund (IMF)
-Initiation of new short-term
liquidity lines
-Repurposing of existing funds
for emergency relief
New policy
instruments -Trade
Existing scope High (=4)
-Harmonization of Health Guidelines
-Coordination of trading rules for
cross-border transports
-Coordination with other global
and regional IOs
-Negotiations with India on
preferential trading in medical
Existing policy
instruments -Health
Existing scope Medium
World Trade
-Joint statement with IMF
-Limited reporting on international
trade ows
Limited use of
existing policy
Existing scope Low-Medium
Central African
Economic and
Monetary Union
Statement by Secretary General Discursive
No activity
Not applicable Low (=1)
No response No response No activity
Not applicable No response
Global Policy (2021) 12:4 ©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
International OrganizationsPolicy Responses to COVID-19 445
Finally, we found 18 IOs to venture into new tasks or initi-
ate new policy instruments (coded 4 or 5). The Organization
for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) started to
provide humanitarian aid. The International Monetary Fund
(IMF) initiated and repurposed a number of funding instru-
ments to support least developed countries and provided
short-term liquidity lines. Some IOs even used the crisis to
propose some potentially far-reaching changes: the EU
agreed to joint debt, the WHO has taken up global supply
change management in coordination with the World Food
Programme (WFP), and the Council of Europe (CoE) ven-
tured into health policy by nancing liquidity shortages. The
CoE also used the COVID-19 crisis to reposition itself,
through a public relations offensive, as the focal institution
for human rights in Europe, with a number of initiatives sur-
rounding the organization and legality of cyber justice.
IOs have responded differently to COVID-19. Some have
barely engaged at all, whereas others have seen an opportu-
nity in this crisis. The remainder of the article seeks to
explain such variation. It is, in this respect, important to reit-
erate that our dependent variable should not be equated
with effectiveness of response. Some IOs have actually been
heavily contested for their slow or inadequate initial
response. The EU and WHO are perhaps the most prominent
examples of IOs of which many people expected more
(Johnson, 2020). An initial lack of effectiveness may also
drive IOs into new territory. As previous health crises show,
the WHO ended up with expanded authority in the wake of
the SARS and Ebola crisis exactly as a result of identied
shortcomings (Kreuder-Sonnen, 2019). A demand for
increased authority of IOs may also result in contestation.
EU member states, for instance, fought heavily over the allo-
cation of funds and the issue of joint debts, even if the EU
eventually came out with innovative funding instruments, a
larger budget, and an increased policy scope (Wolff and
Ladi, 2020).
3. COVID-19, institutional design, and policy
This article argues that variation in institutional design of
IOs conditions the likelihood to be able to respond and
adapt to unforeseen crises such as COVID-19 (Hooghe et al.,
2019; Koremenos et al., 2001). This section puts forward two
sets of hypotheses on the authority and the bureaucratic
capacity of IOs. It posits that IOs with more authority and
bureaucratic capacity are better able to respond to exoge-
nous shocks and have the ability to strategically use the cri-
sis to their advantage.
As already noted in the introduction, much of the initial
commentary has pointed out how COVID-19 further under-
mines the liberal international order (Greitens, 2020; Ken-
wick and Simmons, 2020). Various observers noted that
COVID-19 is the rst international crisis since the end of the
Cold War where the United States does not play a coordi-
nating role (Norrl
of, 2020). Kahl and Wright (2021, title) talk
Figure 1. Variation in scope and policy instrument expansion by staff size.
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
about the end of the old international order.China seems
to accelerate its development as a great power by embark-
ing on mask diplomacyand tightening its hold on Hong
Kong (Mahbubani, 2020). Such geopolitics also caused grid-
lock within IOs with notably the WHO losing funding from
the United States and being accused of China-bias. Many
states furthermore pursued domestic strategies, such as
closing borders, with nationalization coming at the expense
of multilateral cooperation (Bouckaert et al., 2020; Ferhani
and Rushton, 2020; Johnson, 2020).
While COVID-19 presents a challenge to the liberal inter-
national order, we also know that cross-border problems
(with COVID-19 as a case in point) often provide impetus for
(renewed) cooperation (Rittberger et al., 2019). Indeed, the
WHO and its predecessors were originally established pre-
cisely because diseases do not stop at borders. It is also
well-known that IOs regularly benet from crises, because
established orders become uid when the stakes are high
and rapid response is imperative (Kreuder-Sonnen, 2019;
Olsson and Verbeek, 2018; Schimmelfennig, 2018; Stone,
2011). Crises also often highlight the previous shortcomings
of IOs resulting in more delegation of authority (Jones et al.,
2016). As one of the founding fathers of the EU famously
said, Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of
the solutions adopted for those crises(Monnet, 1978, p.
417). From this perspective, it is not surprising that some
IOs have used COVID-19 to expand their scope and policy
To explain the ability of IOs to benet from exogenous
shocks in the short-term requires us to pay attention to
institutional design. The institutions of IOs, of course, evolve
over time. Yet in the short-term, they condition the likeli-
hood of IOs to be able to respond and adapt to unforeseen
circumstances and crises. When COVID-19 hit, IOs had to
craft responses in line with the institutions they had at their
disposal. While there are potentially many relevant institu-
tional design features, the two key questions are whether IO
had sufcient authority to formulate policy responses,
including those expanding the scope of cooperation and
proposing new policy instruments, and the bureaucratic
capacity to do so in a strategic and credible manner.
The authority of IOs is important in times of crisis because
it determines where and how policy responses and deci-
sions are made. This institutional setting, in turn, provides
the opportunity structure which affects whether IOs can
cope with or even benet from COVID-19 (van Hecke et al.,
2021). Authority consists of two dimensions: the delegation
and pooling of sovereignty (Hooghe et al., 2017). Delegation
involves a conditional grant of authority by member states
to an independent body(Hooghe et al., 2017, p. 21), such
as a secretariat which may set the decision-making agenda
by proposing policies or take day-to-day decisions. It is likely
that IOs with high degrees of delegation will be better able
to respond to crises. First, if secretariats have some decision
authority, they can make emergency decisions in the inter-
est of the continued operations of the IO even if member
states in the executive organs have difculty reaching con-
sensus. Second, if secretariats have agenda-shaping powers
they can proactively propose responses and new policy ini-
Pooling concerns joint decision making among the princi-
pals themselves(Hooghe and Marks, 2015, p. 307) and
involves, amongst others, the decision-rule and whether
member states have vetoes, particularly in the executive
organs. Other things being equal, majority-voting not only
helps to speed up decision-making, which is critical in crises,
it also avoids gridlock due to opposing veto-players (Hale
et al., 2013; Tsebelis, 2002). If IOs have high degrees of
authority, either through the delegation or pooling of sover-
eignty, they are more likely to be in position to cope with
crises or actually use crises as opportunities to adapt poli-
cies. Since there is a trade-off between the pooling and del-
egation of sovereignty (Hooghe and Marks, 2015), as IOs
with a large membership typically pool rather than delegate
sovereignty, authority is tested through two separate
H1a: IOs with higher delegated sovereignty will
more likely expand their scope and policy instru-
ments during crises.
H1b: IOs with higher pooled sovereignty will more
likely expand their scope and policy instruments
during crises.
IOs should also have the bureaucratic capacity to respond
to crises (Bauer and Ege, 2016; Heldt and Schmidtke, 2017).
With COVID-19, meetings were cancelled, and ofcials have
been working from home. It is therefore not guaranteed
that IOs have the ability to formulate adequate policy
responses. In line with advances on international public
administration (e.g. Bauer et al., 2017; Knill and Bauer, 2016),
this article tests three aspects of bureaucratic capacity: staff,
budget, and leadership.
First, the presence of a substantial secretariat will more
likely allow IOs to benet from crises. IOs with substantial
staff resources may be able to reassign staff members to
work on crisis response. They may also have strong in-house
expertise which they can use to pursue organizational inter-
ests (Barnett and Finnemore, 2004; Bauer and Ege, 2016;
Eckhard and Ege, 2016; Hawkins et al., 2006). While IOs with
large bureaucracies may experience institutional pathology
and not be exible enough to grasp opportunities (Barnett
and Finnemore, 2004), Gray (2018) nds that quality staff is
critical for the vitality of IOs and Johnson (2014) shows how
secretariat staff act opportunistically when designing new
institutions. While some IOs such as the EU, UN, and WHO
have substantial secretariat resources, many of the 75
major IOs have in fact rather limited staffs often below 50
ofcials (Debre and Dijkstra, 2021). If there are very few
actual policy ofcers, they may simply be overwhelmed with
guaranteeing the continuation of operations and may not
have the ability to proactively propose new policy instru-
Second, available budget is also important. IOs vary signif-
icantly with regard to available funding, with some regula-
tory IOs (e.g. World Trade Organization) mostly having
Global Policy (2021) 12:4 ©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
International OrganizationsPolicy Responses to COVID-19 447
administrative budgets and operational IOs (e.g. World Bank)
having sizeable funds (Rittberger et al., 2019). Due to institu-
tional rules of IOs and lengthy budgetary cycles (Patz and
Goetz, 2019), it is much more likely that IOs which already
have substantial funds and experience in disbursing them
will be treated as focal institutions in COVID-19 response
(see also Ege and Bauer, 2017; Goetz and Patz, 2017). They
might free up funds, use exibility rules to reallocate funds
across policies, or set up new funding instruments. In light
of the available data (see further below), we limit the analy-
sis to overall budgets of IOs. While a more elaborate con-
ceptualization of budgetary politics in crises is worthwhile
for further studies, it is also reasonable that IOs which do
not have substantial budgets are not likely to get them, in
the short-term, simply for the purpose of responding to
Finally, it is important to pay attention to leadership
which is critical in times of crises (e.g. Boin et al., 2016).
While there are various determinants of public leadership, it
seems that seniority and experience are particularly relevant
for IOs in times of crises (Kille and Scully, 2003; Young,
1991). It is more likely that more senior and experienced
politicians will identify the opportunities in crises rather than
solely focus on continuity of operations. Ofcials with expe-
rience at the highest level may also be more used to work-
ing across organizational boundaries and overcoming formal
and institutional constraints (Hall and Woods, 2018). Finally,
senior politicians are more likely to have serious interna-
tional networks and close connections to national capitals.
This leads to the following set of hypotheses:
H2a: IOs with a larger secretariat will more likely
expand their scope and policy instruments of IOs
during crises.
H2b: IOs with a larger budget will more likely
expand their scope and policy instruments during
H2c: IOs with a senior leader at the helm of the
secretariat will more likely expand their scope and
policy instruments during crises.
4. Research design
This article tests these institutional hypotheses through an
ordered logistic regression analysis of policy responses by
75 major IOs. The dependent variable has already been con-
ceptualized and operationalized above and is measured on
a six-point scale. This section discusses the independent and
control variables.
To test hypothesis 1a and 1b, we use the MIA dataset by
Hooghe et al. (2017) on delegation and pooling. Their exten-
sive dataset includes aggregate measures of both concepts
as well as scores for a number of sub-dimensions. As a start-
ing point, we include the two aggregated variables to mea-
sure the degree of decision-making authority conferred to
IO bodies (delegation) and the degree of joint decision-mak-
ing in the collective IO body (pooling). We use the values for
the last available year in the dataset (2010). Since pooling
and delegation are relatively stable measures and have not
drastically changed between 2005 and 2010 (Hooghe et al.,
2019), we are condent that the values remain valid repre-
sentations of IO authority in 2020.
In addition to both aggregate measures of delegation and
pooling, we include four variables from Hooghe et al. (2017)
on sub-dimensions: delbudget and delpolicy measure the
extent to which budgetary allocation and agenda-setting
powers have been delegated to the secretariat or executive
bodies. In case of delegated agenda-setting powers, IOs
may be able to suggest new initiatives, whereas budgetary
powers should allow for more discretion in allocating fund-
ing to COVID-19 responses. For pooling, we similarly include
the sub-dimensions of poolbudget and poolpolicy, which
measure the degree to which decision-making is jointly
exercised with regard to policy-making and budgetary mat-
ters. Majority-voting in IOs should, in this respect, allow
more easily for scope expansion and new policy instru-
We test hypotheses 2ac on the basis of the readily avail-
able data. To measure secretariat size, we use data on per-
manent staff provided by the Yearbook of International
Organizations for the last reported year and include the
logged number of staff (staffsize) to deal with the skewed
distribution. Where the Yearbook does not provide data, we
have done additional online research on the websites of the
organizations. To measure budget size (budget), we have
collected data on the budgets of IOs in the scal year 2019
2020 from annual reports. Ideally, we would have included
variables for the type of budgetary funding as well as the
exibility of budgetary rules during crisis situations. These
are unfortunately not available for these 75 IOs. Indeed,
even exact budget numbers are not available for 29 of the
75 IOs. We therefore decided to measure budget in categor-
ical form, differentiating between IOs with small (<US$100
million), medium (100 million to 1 billion) and large budgets
(>1 billion). We infer budget size for those IOs that do not
provide exact numbers for 2019 from reporting in previous
years or descriptions in secondary literature. As robustness
check, we also included a variable using exact budget num-
bers (in US$million, logged), budget_est, with estimations for
missing values based on the average budgets of all IOs in
the reference category (Table D, Appendix). Finally, we
include a variable measuring type of leadership to differenti-
ate if the head of secretariat (Secretary General or Director
General) has previous high-level political experience (Presi-
dent/Prime Minister/Vice/Foreign Minister or Secretary Gen-
eral of another IO).
We include several control variables. To measure the rele-
vance of COVID-19 for the 75 different IOs, we include the
aggregated number of COVID-19 cases (logged) of all IO
member states by 31 March 2020 as compiled by Johns
Hopkins University. We expect that IOs whose members
were particularly badly affected by COVID-19 at the start of
the pandemic will feel more pressure to respond to the
exogenous shock. In addition, we include a control variable
policy eld (Hooghe et al. 2017), to account for the fact that
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
IOs dealing with health, economics, and nance, as well as
border management and migration issues will be most
affected in their work and therefore also more likely to
respond. While COVID-19 is a challenge for most IOs and
cuts across policy elds, from education to postal delivery, it
is nevertheless important to control for those policies that
caused most challenges.
In addition to the differential impact of COVID-19, we
control for several additional design features. First, we con-
trol for policy scope of IOs. Hooghe et al. (2019) convincingly
distinguish between task-specic and general purpose IOs,
arguing that the scope of general purpose IOs is likely to
expand over time, while the scope of task-specic IOs
remains relatively xed. A general purpose IO, such as the
EU, might become active in health policy over time, whereas
the International Criminal Court is unlikely to do so. Second,
we control for the number of member states (logged) (Peve-
house et al., 2020) with the expectation that IOs with a large
membership will have more difculty expanding policies in
light of COVID-19. Third, we include a dichotomous variable
power politics indicating whether both China and the United
States are members of an IO. Since many commentators
have pointed at AmericanChinese rivalry, we would expect
IOs that include both countries as members to be unable to
develop ambitious policy responses.
5. Analysis and discussion
We use ordered logit models (McCullagh, 1980) with robust
standard errors due to the ordinal measurement of our
dependent variable. The analysis presented in Table 2
reports results for ve models. Model (1) shows results for
hypotheses 1a and 1b on the effects of pooling and delega-
tion of authority on policy responses, model (2) uses the
sub-dimensions for pooling and delegation, and model (3)
reports results for Hypotheses 2a, b, and c about the effect
of bureaucratic capacity, namely size of staff, budget, and
leadership. Model (4) is a fully saturated model and Model 5
tests an interaction effect between staff and authority.
Additionally, we report results of these ve models with a
differently scaled dependent variable in the
Appendix (Table C) to test if results hold with collapsed cat-
egories (low =0 and 1, medium =2 and 3, high =4 and 5),
thereby increasing the number of observations for each cat-
egory. The results remain largely the same.
The models reveal interesting results. First, size of staff is
one of the most important predictors to explain policy
responses at the 0.05 signicance level. In fact, an IO with
ten times more staff has a 1.6 times higher probability of
responding to the crisis in some way (dv =1 to 5) instead
of shutting down and doing nothing (dv =0). The left-hand
side of Figure 2 explores the magnitude of this effect for rel-
ative probabilities that an IO exhibits low, medium, and very
high levels of scope and policy instrument expansion. Sub-
stantively, they show that increasing staff size has a large
effect on the probability that an IO has expanded its policy
scope or instruments, with large IOs being highly unlikely to
barely engage with COVID-19 at all.
We can thus accept
Hypothesis 2a: IOs with a larger secretariat will more likely
expand their scope and policy instruments during crises.
In contrast, neither budget nor leadership seniority are
signicant predictors, leading us to reject H2b and H2c.
However, when including real budgetary data with estimates
for missing values (Table D, Appendix), budget turns signi-
cant at the 0.1 signicance level, pointing at the potential
relevance of budget as a predictor of scope and instrument
expansion. We also have to reject H1a and H1b on the
effect of pooling and delegation. However, model (2) shows
that this is not true for the more specic variable that mea-
sures power-setting agenda with regard to policy making,
which is signicant at the 0.1 level. While we have to be
careful with our conclusions at these signicance levels,
given the relatively small sample-size we think it is reason-
able to highlight these results. The right-hand side of Fig-
ure 2 further exemplies these ndings: while the odds of
being in the low category decrease with increasing policy
agenda-setting authority and are relatively stable for the
medium category (continuity of functions), the odds
increase for the very high category (exploit crisis as opportu-
nity). This positive effect of delegated policy agenda-setting
power on the probability of scope and instrument
expansion is even stronger if we collapse the categories of
the dependent variable to three (see Table C, Model 2,
Finally, model (5) tests to what extent larger bureaucracies
with more delegated authority are more likely to expand
their scope and policy instruments. Arguably, bureaucracies
will only be able to move forward if they have at least some
delegated authority to set the agenda and push for their
proposals. However, the interaction effect itself is not signi-
cant, while the main effect of staff size remains highly signif-
icant. This could indicate that large bureaucracies are
relevant during the COVID-19 crisis even if they do not have
the formal power of agenda-setting. The interaction effect is
signicant in the alternative model with collapsed categories
for the dependent variable (see Table C, Model 5, Appendix).
Graphing the interaction reveals that the marginal effect of
increasing policy agenda-setting authority is only signicant
for very large bureaucracies (with staff above roughly 400).
The marginal effect of policy-agenda power on the probabil-
ity of high scope and instrument expansion (dv =high)
decreases with growing staff size, while it increases for the
probability of being able to offer continuation of functions
(dv =medium). Thus, model (5) in Table C conrms that IOs
with larger bureaucracies might not necessarily need policy
agenda-setting authority to push for innovations, but that
they may prot from it when it comes to keeping up shop
during crisis.
These ndings merit discussion. It is surprising that H1a
and H1b on delegated and pooled sovereignty are not sig-
nicant and this indirectly challenges the keynote work by
Hooghe et al. (2019). As aggregate measures, however,
these concepts include a number of sub-dimensions that
are not necessarily important in crisis situations with a
short-term time horizon. As noted above, formal authority is
important as it determines where and how policy responses
Global Policy (2021) 12:4 ©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
International OrganizationsPolicy Responses to COVID-19 449
and decisions are made. At the same time, we also know
that when the stakes are high, informal modes of gover-
nance may prevail (Stone, 2011) over the formal rules which
are so central in the work of Hooghe et al. (2019). This may
also help to explain the signicance of secretariat staff. Ulti-
mately, secretariats provide most continuity to IOs, as mem-
ber states may not meet in the plenary and executive
organs on a daily basis. In fact, the pandemic has even
forced many IOs to postpone their regular annual plenary
meetings, so many of the short-term decisions were taken
by IO bureaucrats or only had to pass through executive
committees. As such, secretariats are the ones that need to
deal with crises and if they have substantial expertise, they
are even more likely to be leading in formulating policy
That H2a is conrmed shows, once more, the importance
of secretariat staff in the engine room of IOs. It also con-
rms bureaucratic theories that portray secretariat ofcials
as opportunistic agents (Hawkins et al., 2006). At the same
time, the adaptability of large bureaucracies is not a given
(Barnett and Finnemore, 2004) and IO secretariats still need
to work in tandem with key member states to actually
achieve desired change in the long run (Dijkstra, 2017; Eck-
hard et al., 2019). These conicting dynamics we have also
Table 2. Determinants of policy responses
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Delegation 1.334 0.827
(1.632) (2.257)
Pooling 0.765 1.853
(2.100) (2.120)
delpolicy 4.417
(2.596) (4.226)
delbudget 2.601
poolpolicy 0.887
poolbudget 0.469
Staff (log) 0.495*0.499*0.975**
(0.211) (0.209) (0.308)
Leadership 0.0172 0.226
(0.571) (0.714)
Medium 0.873 0.992
(0.793) (0.827)
High 1.074 1.218
(1.027) (1.064)
staffsize#delpolicy 0.845
IO Members (log) 0.0633 0.0553 0.367 0.142 0.469
(0.394) (0.341) (0.371) (0.463) (0.360)
USChina 0.607 0.632 0.210 0.168 0.265
(0.734) (0.745) (0.768) (0.779) (0.715)
Policy Scope 2.079** 2.111** 1.981*2.187*2.204*
(0.738) (0.684) (0.810) (0.935) (1.023)
COVID Cases (log) 0.346
0.346 0.320 0.442
(0.191) (0.196) (0.223) (0.226) (0.238)
Policy Field 0.222 0.160 0.750 0.664 0.707
(0.543) (0.554) (0.568) (0.583) (0.503)
cut1 3.183 3.244 4.319
3.998 7.269*
(1.949) (2.259) (2.536) (2.579) (3.250)
cut2 4.300*4.417*5.655*5.352*8.688**
(1.920) (2.237) (2.557) (2.571) (3.355)
cut3 4.893*5.031*6.378*6.090*9.430**
(1.921) (2.242) (2.579) (2.588) (3.398)
cut4 6.572*** 6.773** 8.528** 8.283** 11.55**
(1.973) (2.281) (2.684) (2.686) (3.538)
cut5 8.248*** 8.484*** 10.69*** 10.45*** 13.64***
(1.969) (2.246) (2.803) (2.790) (3.488)
N75 75 73 73 73
Notes: Standard errors in parentheses
p<0.10, *p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001; Coefcients reported. The labels/numbers in bold
are the variables and data that are statistically signicant.
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
seen empirically, for instance, in the case of the EU. The ini-
tial response by the European Commission to COVID-19 was
slow. A leading Member of the European Parliament wrote
an op-ed entitled Avanti, von der Leyen!(Verhofstadt,
2020) and Commission President Von der Leyen even issued
aheartfelt apologyto Italy for the slow EU response (BBC,
2020). Afterwards, however, the European Commission fully
engaged, not just to tackle immediate health and economic
challenges, but also to use COVID-19 and the new recovery
fund of 750bn euro to promote previous Commission priori-
ties such as climate change, digitalization, and research.
H2b on budget and H2c on leadership were not con-
rmed. It is, however, important to stress the lack of
detailed cross-sectional data on bureaucratic capacity. While
Figure 2. Predictive margins by size of staff (left) and delegated policy making authority (right) at low, medium, and very high levels of
expansion in scope and policy instruments (with 90% condence interval)
Global Policy (2021) 12:4 ©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
International OrganizationsPolicy Responses to COVID-19 451
strong data now exist on pooling and delegation of sover-
eignty (Hooghe et al., 2017), the operationalization of bud-
gets and leadership capacity (and even staff size) is more
limited. In fact, results from robustness checks reported in
Table D in the Appendix that use more ne-grained data on
IO budgets show that budgetary capacity could in fact be a
signicant predictor for the ability of IOs to prot from crisis.
We know from scholarship on the resourcing of IOs that the
idiosyncrasies of individual IOs matter beyond overall bud-
get data: whether IOs can rely on core funding in the regu-
lar budget or voluntary funding by donors, the extent to
which funding is earmarked, and what budgetary exibility
is available (Goetz and Patz, 2017; Graham, 2015, 2017; Patz
and Goetz, 2019). A similar caveat also applies for H2c on
leadership. Our operationalization is limited, and it is not
always a priori clear whether the previous background of
heads of secretariats determines leadership abilities during
Qualitative evidence provides further support for the
potential relevance of these variables. The WTO (coded as
medium-low) experienced a leadership crisis with its Director-
General stepping down in the middle of the rst wave. The
United Nations Educational, Scientic and Cultural Organiza-
tion (UNESCO) (also medium-low) was marred by continuous
budgetary restraints over recent years, which may have pre-
vented it from the development of more innovative solutions
for the heavily affected policy domain of education. These
ndings thus also further underline the need for cross-sec-
tional data gathering on the bureaucratic capacity of IOs.
The control variables furthermore deserve attention. The
number of COVID-19 cases and the policy scope of IOs are
signicant predictors of the probability of scope expansion
during the pandemic. IOs that are active in regions with
high initial numbers of cases were more likely to not only
provide a continuity of functions, but also to come up with
innovative instruments and take on new tasks. Likewise,
general purpose IOs are also more likely to expand their
scopes and instruments which ts with expectations that
task-specic IOs have more stable policy portfolios (Hooghe
et al., 2019). Surprisingly, policy eld is not a signicant pre-
dictor, despite our expectation that IOs in policy elds such
as health, border management, or trade, would be most
heavily affected by the pandemic. The ndings suggest that
exogenous shocks can be a real window of opportunity for
nearly all IOs to branch out and take on new tasks.
Finally, the nding that geopolitics between the United
States and China, measured in terms of both countries
being a member of an IO, is not signicant is also worth dis-
cussing. First, we have used quite a crude indicator for
geopolitical contestation. At the same time, we see consid-
erable variation in some of the geopolitically contested IOs.
While the WHO was heavily affected by geopolitics, it has
remained clearly the focal point for global health. Another
example is the UN Security Council, which only managed to
declare COVID-19 a threat to international peace and secu-
rity on 1 July 2020, whereas much of the rest of the UN
organization had responded quicker. It is, in this respect,
also worth pointing out that many of the plenary and
executive bodies do not continuously meet and China and
the United States may not have had the opportunity to
actually block the implementation of policy initiatives. Simi-
larly, much of IO day-to-day policy actually takes place out-
side the realm of great power politics, and it is up to the
bureaucratic staff of an institution to take the lead when it
comes to emergency politics.
6. Conclusions
Many observers have noted that COVID-19 is yet another
nail in the cofn of the liberal international order. At the
same time, this article has argued that cross-border crises
such as COVID-19 can present IOs with windows of opportu-
nity to expand their scope and develop new policy instru-
ments. It indeed shows that there is variation between how
IOs have responded to COVID-19: 22 IOs have hardly
engaged with COVID-19, 35 provide some continuity of
operations and use existing instruments, and 18 IOs have
expanded their scope and policy instruments. We nd that
the bureaucratic capacity of IOs (staff in secretariat) is signif-
icant to explain this variation, and to a lesser extent also the
delegation of agenda-setting authority. Furthermore, as pre-
viously found, this article also shows that general purpose
IOs can more easily expand their scope than task-specic
IOs (Hooghe et al., 2019). And there is also some evidence
that a higher number of COVID-19 cases among the mem-
bership triggers a stronger response.
Signicantly, we nd that bureaucracies might be able to
push their agenda even when they are lacking the formal
authority to do so. When IO bureaucrats manage to use cri-
sis moments as windows of opportunities to expand their
scope and instruments, plenary bodies might well follow
suit later on to legalize these practices and thus equip the
IO with more authority (Jones et al., 2016; Kreuder-Sonnen,
2019). In this respect, it will also be important to study the
initial timing of IO policy responses to COVID-19. Academic
literature has highlighted the role of timing in public policy-
making (e.g. Agn
e, 2016; Eckhard et al., 2019; Howlett and
Goetz, 2014), but so far, we know little about the effects of
timing of policy responses on trajectories of institutional
change. This is all the more important considering potential
rst-mover advantages.
The current COVID-19 crisis presents a clear test case to
take stock of the current state of liberal international order.
Just as Drezner (2014) claimed that the system workeddur-
ing the previous economic and nancial crisis, this article
shows that the large majority of IOs manage to continue
their operations and some even gained from COVID-19 in
terms of policy scope and instruments. The effectiveness of
IO response to COVID-19 can be debated, but in terms of
institutional change some IOs may be moving up and not
down. The fact that many IOs as bastions of multilateralism
are still standing raises questions about whether we are
indeed seeing a crisis of liberal international order or within
the liberal international order (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni and Hof-
mann, 2020). We need to wait for the longer-term impact
on COVID-19, but if IOs show resilience during a cross-
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
border crisis for which they were developed in the rst
place, their future is not necessarily bleak.
1. We would like to thank the editor and reviewers of Global Policy for
their excellent supportive comments on our manuscript. The article
was previously presented at the German DVPW International Sec-
tion Conference Freiburg in 2020 and at the ECPR General Confer-
ence Innsbruck in 2020. We would also like to thank our ERC team
members for substantive comments and Camila Kirtzman, in particu-
lar, for preparatory work. This article is part of a project that has
received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under
the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation pro-
gramme (grant agreement No 802568). Data used in this article are
available in the Appendix.
2. Due to the small number of IOs in each category, condence inter-
vals are relatively large in each case. However, cut-points between
levels show a signicant difference between categories.
3. We exclude three IOs because they are dead (COMECON, EAC1,
NAFTA). NAFTA has been renegotiated in 2018 with the new agree-
ment only taking effect on 1 June 2020.
4. Checks for multicollinearity between independent variables reveal
no signicant correlations. A likelihood ratio and brant test conrm
that the proportional odds assumption is not violated.
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Supporting Information
Additional supporting information may be found online in the Supporting
Information section at the end of the article.
Appendix S1
Author Information
Maria Josepha Debre is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at Pots-
dam University and an associate researcher in the ERC project Who
gets to live forever?at Maastricht University. Her research focuses on
regional and international organizations and their institutional design
and on the international dimension of democratization and autocratic
Hylke Dijkstra is an associate professor at the Department of Political
Science, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. He is the principal
investigator of the project Who gets to live forever?on the decline
and death of international organizations funded by the European
Research Council. He focuses on international organizations.
©2021 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham University and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2021) 12:4
Debre and Dijkstra
... In the article titled 'COVID-19 and Policy Responses by International Organizations: Crisis of Liberal International Order or Window of Opportunity?', its authors argue that while exogenous crisis including COVID-19 becomes a challenge to liberal international order including the work of international organizations (IOs), such crisis may also become windows of opportunities to expand IOs' work scopes and policy instruments (Debre & Dijkstra, 2021). Based on the analysis of 75 IOs' policy response to in the first wave of the pandemic (March to June 2020), Debre and Dijkstra (2021) find that there are disparities across IOs' policy responses to COVID-19. ...
... In the article titled 'COVID-19 and Policy Responses by International Organizations: Crisis of Liberal International Order or Window of Opportunity?', its authors argue that while exogenous crisis including COVID-19 becomes a challenge to liberal international order including the work of international organizations (IOs), such crisis may also become windows of opportunities to expand IOs' work scopes and policy instruments (Debre & Dijkstra, 2021). Based on the analysis of 75 IOs' policy response to in the first wave of the pandemic (March to June 2020), Debre and Dijkstra (2021) find that there are disparities across IOs' policy responses to COVID-19. The strength of IOs' policy response to COVID-19 is measured by a six-point scale developed by the authors, ranging from 0 (no response) to 5 (very high). ...
... However, being different from the popular belief, some other factors such as IOs' policy fields (whether an IO deals with health, economics, finance, and border management and migration) do not have statistically significant impact on IOs' policy response to COVID-19 in the first wave. In short, Debre and Dijkstra (2021) have several interesting findings and enrich scientific knowledge of IOs' responses to external shocks including COVID-19. Scientific insights and practical implications are also generated in Debre and Dijkstra's research. ...
... Policy scope can also be expected to make a difference. For example, according to a study by Debre and Dijkstra (2021), who analysed a significantly smaller sample of IOs, general purpose IOs were more likely to expand their scope and instruments compared with task-specific IOs in a situation of the Covid-19 pandemic. ...
... This is probably due to task-specific IGOs having fixed budgets, meaning that their ability to operate out of scope is limited. Our finding agrees with results of Debre and Dijkstra (2021), who argue that the bureaucratic capacity of IOs is an important factor shaping organizational behaviour under the pandemic. ...
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When Covid-19 broke out, many interpreted it as a crisis that would lead to fundamental changes in different areas of life. The article aims to assess whether this also applies to intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). By analysing the websites of a sample of intergovernmental organizations, we ask: How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the behaviour of intergovernmental organizations? How can one explain this behaviour of intergovernmental organizations in response to such a major exogenous event as the Covid-19 pandemic? How can the Covid-19 pandemic be best conceptualized in terms of its impact on intergovernmental organizations? We show that the responses of intergovernmental organizations to the Covid-19 pandemic had two important features: (a) intergovernmental organizations responded in a synchronized way, and (b) the pandemic triggered wide-spread non-major adaptations to the changed environment, providing opportunities for legitimation work and minor repackaging of existing activities, but has not led to noticeable transformational change in organizations’ activities. We argue that the observed intergovernmental organization’s responses can be explained partly from rational-choice perspective and partly from sociological institutionalist perspective. Given our data, we argue that the pandemic can be conceptualized as an uncertainty shock, in terms of its impact on intergovernmental organizations.
... In fact, norm contestation can even be regarded as a necessary ingredient for keeping norm dynamics vital (Müller & Wunderlich, 2018;Sandholtz, 2008;Wiener, 2014;Zimmermann et al., 2018). Crises provide opportunities for deepened governance and enhanced cooperation (Debre & Dijkstra, 2021b). Thus, this larger literature may offer some reason for optimism for the NPT's longer-term vitality. ...
... Indeed, in this special issue, Smetana and O'Mahoney (2022) argue that the regime is an "anti-fragile" system, which actually needs shocks to improve. Indeed, research from the broader field of international organizations underscores that crises have the potential to strengthen governance and deepen cooperation (Debre & Dijkstra, 2021b). ...
The most inclusive security treaty in the world, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) turned 50 in 2020. Our special issue takes stock of the NPT’s vitality after these five decades. In this introduction, we emphasize the need to distinguish between the treaty instrument and the larger nuclear nonproliferation regime. Next, we consider a recent development that may represent a serious impending shock which could weaken the NPT: dramatic changes in the treaty’s legal and normative landscape. Then, we assess vitality of the NPT in light of current concerns, arguing that norm contestation can be healthy for international regimes and calls for the death of the NPT are premature. Finally, we review the contributions of our special issue authors, highlighting the significant differences among them, and embedding them in ongoing research on the NPT.
... With a focus on expanded COVID-19 vaccine programs for neonates and young children previously excluded as well as on developing newer vaccines to tackle the Omicron subvariants [29,30], it is unlikely that CVCs will stop being a requirement for many scenarios, including those outlined in this research. From our survey data and the literature, it is clear that coordination around CVCs will require multidisciplinary efforts and multilateral partners, led by a policy champion that can balance public health, equity and ethics, technology and the global economy [31]. Without championship of this kind, CVCs will not disappear but continue to be implemented in a less equitable and ineffective manner, worsening the impacts on the poor and on vulnerable countries. ...
COVID-19 vaccination certificates (CVCs) have played a key role in safe reopening of borders for international travel and trade, so understanding key stakeholder perceptions of enablers and barriers for their effective use is critical. The COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Research and Deci-sion-Support Initiative in Asia (CORESIA) was established to address policy questions related to CVCs. We conducted two online surveys, i.e., one for the public and one for health and non-health sector experts, from June to October 2021 in nine Asian countries. Descriptive analysis identified participants, enablers, and barriers. Most participants (78% public, 89% experts) accepted the use of CVCs, primarily to resume international travel (76%). Most respondents in both surveys wanted the minimum vaccination coverage to be 60% before CVCs were implemented nation-wide. Most of the public (82%) agreed to maintain existing non-pharmaceutical interventions, while most experts wanted risk-based testing and quarantine policy for incoming travellers (51%) and both digital and paper format CVCs (64%). Support for CVCs for international travel remains high in Asia. Recognising key enablers and barriers for effective use of CVCs from COVID-19 pandemic may help policymakers draft effective border policies for future epidemics.
... (Saad-Filho, 2020;Makarychev & Romashko, 2021;Lichfield, 2020;Debre & Dijkstra, 2020). Ne yazık ki, devletler, 2000'li yıllardan sonra ortaya çıkan SARS, Domuz Gribi, EBOLA, MERS gibi birçok salgın hastalığa karşı kısa sürede ekonomik ve toplumsal çözümler üretirken, COVID-19'un etkileri karşısında tüm toplumsal çaba ve teknolojik olanaklar kullanılmasına rağmen (Toker, 2020:1) salgını yönetmede yetersiz kalarak birinci görüşü ortaya koyanları haklı çıkartmıştır. ...
... Thus, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are fast becoming the next frontier in clinical and technological programs, research, and development (Woolliscroft, 2020;Díaz et al., 2021). We note that the main challenge, particularly for the health professionals and researchers, has been in developing turn-around policies or innovative measures that incorporate coping mechanisms for the stakeholders, managing continuity of the different services offered, and improving/accelerating the healthcare systems and technology in general (OECD, 2020; Debre and Dijkstra, 2021;Okoye et al., 2021). It is noteworthy to mention the speculations on how disproportionate the implications of COVID-19 have been on the healthcare, engineering, and informatics sectors due to age, ethnicity, gender, demographic and linguistic distribution, cultural and socio-economic status, and other factors (WHO, 2020(WHO, , 2021. ...
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Lessons from COVID-19: Impact on Healthcare Systems and Technology uncovers the impact that COVID-19 has made on healthcare and technology industries. State-of-the-art case studies, empirical research, and new trends in technology-mediated solution are discussed to help inform and guide readers in understanding the effects that the COVID-19 outbreak has had across healthcare and technology industries. The book discusses challenges to identify vaccines, changes in legislation on clinical trials and re-purposing of licensed drugs, effects on primary healthcare, best practices adopted by different countries to control the pandemic, and different effects on patients within diverse age groups and comorbidities. In addition, the book covers technology-mediated solutions and infrastructures applied, digital transformations, modeling techniques, statistical projections, and the benefits and use of cloud computing and artificial intelligence. This is a valuable resource for healthcare professionals, medical doctors, researchers and graduate students from both biomedical and technological fields who are interested in learning more about the use of new technologies to fight a pandemic. Key Features - Discusses the effects of COVID-19 on healthcare and technology - Presents case studies and state-of-the-art research and technologies to help readers effectively understand the effects of COVID-19 - Empowers researchers to work on effective hypothesis to test the disruptions and changes that have occurred as a result of COVID-19 - Bridges practical and theoretical gaps in terms of lessons learned during COVID-19 in the healthcare and technology sectors. With the help of this book, readers will be able to: (1) understand the effects of COVID-19 on the healthcare and technology sectors (2) obtain a comprehensive view of the case studies and methodologies, state-of-the-art research, technologies, and effective practices that have impacted the different sectors during COVID-19 (3) work on effective hypotheses to test the disruptions and changes that have spanned across the duration of COVID-19 in preparedness for what is next (4) bridge the practical and theoretical gaps or lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly within the healthcare system and technology sector.
... Few address the challenges to regionalism outside of Europe, and if they do, they concentrate almost exclusively on the impact of economic and financial crises (Fioramonti 2012;Saurugger and Terpan 2016). Recent publications have also assessed the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on regional organizations in various regions (e.g., Debre and Dijkstra 2021b;Melo and Papageorgiou 2021). Most existing studies, however, focus on one challenge only, whereas our contribution studies the impact of a sequence of stress situations. ...
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Barely 15 years after the 2008 financial crisis and in a context of rising nationalism, regional organizations are facing multiple challenges. This article introduces an analytical framework that systematizes stressors and identifies characteristics that might help regional organizations to cope with stress. It draws on psychological models of how individuals cope with stress to explore how regional organizations grapple with a sequence of stress situations. Stress factors can aggravate pre-existing problems in regionalism and contribute to regional disintegration. But they can also trigger counter-reactions and strengthen the resilience of regionalism. To substantiate our arguments, we study the repercussions of two recent crises for South American regionalism: the political crisis in Venezuela and the Covid-19 pandemic.
... derinleşmesi, güvensizlik ve belirsizlik gibi sorunlarla karşı karşıya kalan tüm ülkelerde derin izler bırakacağı görülmektedir. Aynı zamanda bir kriz olarak da tanımlanan bu sürecin, uluslararası organizasyonlara kapasitelerini geliştirme konusunda yeni fırsatlar yaratma olasılığı da bulunmaktadır (Debre ve Dijkstra, 2020). Ancak virüsle mücadelede küresel güçler ve kaynaklardan çok ulusal ve yerel düzeyde alınan önlemler ve müdahalelerin ön plana çıktığı da bir gerçektir (Makarychev ve Romashko, 2021). ...
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Social Policy and Local Governments During the COVID19 Pandemic: The Case of District Municipalities in Istanbul Abstract: The COVID-19 epidemic that emerged in December 2019 and the social problems it created affected both the social policy regulations of the nation states and the active role of local governments. Today, municipalities are emerging as the most important actors in the local welfare system that provide prosperity and meet common needs. In this study, the services provided by the municipalities in the field of social policy were evaluated from the perspective of the welfare state and local welfare in order to reveal the potentials, capacities, areas of struggle and opportunities by addressing how to respond to a global epidemic at the metropolitan city level of Istanbul at the local level. İt was used document review method in this study. For this purpose, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and five district municipalities determined to have different socio-economic and demographic conditions were examined. As a result of the study, the municipalities took protective and preventive measures at the level of local governments; It was determined that they carried out some social assistance practices and offered limited social services to disadvantaged groups. The findings show that at the onset of the pandemic, municipalities prioritize services aimed at meeting basic needs; it revealed that they started to gain new experiences in using technology (such as psychological counseling, telephone counseling, video and live internet broadcasting and informative seminars) in the later period. Although it is predicted that the information and services obtained from these experiences can be maintained, it has been determined that the quality of social services in the context of institutionalization, income and socioeconomic development of the municipalities has been determined.
Global policy commitments to refugee protection are shaped by ever‐growing pressures, from displacements triggered by conflicts, extremism and climate crisis to domestic fear‐based politics. Before the COVID‐19 pandemic, many governments were increasingly embracing exclusionary policies, defying the rights of asylum‐seekers and refugees stalled in protracted camp settlements. While such policies contrast starkly with core principles espoused in the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees, restrictions on refugees intensified further during the pandemic. This article discusses struggles shaped by these trajectories, drawing on policy analysis and experiences articulated in Tongogara Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe, where displaced people have recently endured impacts of climate disasters along with greater constraints on mobility and the hardening of international borders. We highlight divergences between colonial policy orientations and African philosophies such as Ubuntu that prioritize communal values and humanity towards others. Analysing concerns around encampment and barriers both to resettlement and local integration, we stress that the talents, contributions and fundamental rights of refugees should not be ignored by policy makers, who also need to be attentive to the social and ecological challenges experienced in refugee spaces. Exploring constraints of the various ‘durable solutions’, we draw attention to how uncertainties facing displaced people need to be critically approached as multi‐scalar policy matters, beckoning attention to insufficiently met commitments linked with the Global Compact on Refugees, ways of mobilizing resistance to contemporary colonial bordering and support for refugee‐led initiatives.
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This article analyses the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic crisis represents a window of opportunity towards fundamental change in the economic governance of the European Union (EU). Adopting a historical institutionalist (HI) perspective and drawing insights from the policy learning literature, we argue that contingent learning immediately took place and policy entrepreneurs took important decisions recognising the new crisis as an existential threat for the EU. Further, the pandemic crisis support fund and the ECB pandemic emergency purchase programme represent instances of single loop learning that leave the fundamentals of economic governance untouched. However, and in contrast to the Euro area crisis response, the adoption of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) represents a bold decision and suggests double-loop learning. It is argued that the Covid-19 crisis is a critical juncture for the EU. As a result, EU economic governance ceases to be limited to its regulatory function and is now complemented by a redistributive function as well.
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Covid-19 is the latest blow to the ailing liberal international order, which has faced a series of challenges in the postwar era. This article traces the global spread of the virus scaled to population and case fatality rates of different countries. Using inferential statistics, I find that liberal democracies have higher case fatality rates than other regime types and offer some plausible explanations for why. Systemically, I show how the spread of the virus complicates the implementation of policies consistent with liberal international order, potentially destroying the order in which liberal democracies participate. Given the paucity of the data as well as cross-country reporting differences in a still evolving crisis, these findings provide a first social scientific cut over the first half year of the pandemic rather than a final assessment of its consequences.
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COVID-19 is the most invasive global crisis in the postwar era, jeopardizing all dimensions of human activity. By theorizing COVID-19 as a public bad, I shed light on one of the great debates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries regarding the relationship between the United States and liberal international order (LIO). Conceptualizing the pandemic as a public bad, I analyze its consequences for US hegemony. Unlike other international public bads and many of the most important public goods that make up the LIO, the COVID-19 public bad not only has some degree of rivalry but can be made partially excludable, transforming it into more of a club good. Domestically, I demonstrate how the failure to effectively manage the COVID-19 public bad has compromised America's ability to secure the health of its citizens and the domestic economy, the very foundations for its international leadership. These failures jeopardize US provision of other global public goods. Internationally, I show how the US has already used the crisis strategically to reinforce its opposition to free international movement while abandoning the primary international institution tasked with fighting the public bad, the World Health Organization (WHO). While the only area where the United States has exercised leadership is in the monetary sphere, I argue this feat is more consequential for maintaining hegemony. However, even monetary hegemony could be at risk if the pandemic continues to be mismanaged.
Despite new challenges like climate change and digitalization, global and regional organizations recently went through turbulent times due to a lack of support from several of their member states. Next to this crisis of multilateralism, the COVID-19 pandemic now seems to question the added value of international organizations for addressing global governance issues more specifically. This article analyses this double challenge that several organizations are facing and compares their ways of managing the crisis by looking at their institutional and political context, their governance structure, and their behaviour during the pandemic until June 2020. More specifically, it will explain the different and fragmented responses of the World Health Organization, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank. With the aim of understanding the old and new problems that these international organizations are trying to solve, this article argues that the level of autonomy vis-a-vis the member states is crucial for understanding the politics of crisis management. Points for practitioners As intergovernmental bodies, international organizations require authorization by their member states. Since they also need funding for their operations, different degrees of autonomy also matter for reacting to emerging challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential for international organizations is limited, though through proactive and bold initiatives, they can seize the opportunity of the crisis and partly overcome institutional and political constraints.
Exploring the challenges of Covid-19 for the European Union (EU) during March-August 2020, this article argues that contrary to prior crises the EU has demonstrated a certain degree of adaptability to a ‘permanent’ emergency mode. This adaptability varies across policy areas under study. Inter-crisis learning has been higher in state aid and economic governance than in the area of Schengen. Discursive shifts co-exist and have been central to the areas of cybercrime, economic governance and climate change. Additionally, and despite the tensions, there are signs of renewed political commitment to the European project and an acceleration of decisions and initiatives that had been decided or discussed before the pandemic. Although de-politicization and politicization trends continue to co-exist, we observe politicization at the top with European elites perceiving the Covid-19 emergency as an existential threat for the EU. Finally, we argue that the EU’s adaptability and acceleration of prior trends do not necessarily involve a race that favor supranational tendencies.
EU health policy is a policy forged in crisis. Whilst maintaining the strict limitations on the EU’s role that are described in the treaties, crises have historically been followed by incremental but integrative policy change. Given this trend, should we be expecting a radical expansion of EU health policy in the aftermath of Covid-19? And, if so, what parameters and characteristics might this new agenda have? As we enter the period in which the EU will try to elaborate its new health policy, this paper uses a Complexity perspective to assess how the emerging agenda compares to existing and historical EU action on health, the kind of decision-making that we are likely to see in the different areas of action, and the limitations of EU health policy development as it pushes into more political and complex areas of policy.
To what extent has the COVID-19 outbreak, and the augmented use of health surveillance technology that has resulted from it, altered international conceptions of civil liberties, privacy, and democracy? This article examines how global patterns of liberal democracy have been and could be affected by the pandemic. In China, the outbreak has strengthened a pre-existing techno-authoritarian project aimed at prevention and control of threats to both public health and public order. Certain features of the international system such as China's major power status, its global economic role, and its leadership in international organizations suggest that China's model of illiberal pandemic response could diffuse worldwide. Other factors, however—such as the incomparability of China's political system to many other countries in the contemporary international system—suggest more limited diffusion potential. To date, the pandemic has largely augmented existing trends, meaning that autocracies have been likely to respond in ways that infringe upon citizen rights, and weak democracies have exhibited some risk of democratic erosion and pandemic-associated autocratization. In these cases, however, factors other than surveillance have been central to processes of democratic decay. Conversely, a large number of consolidated democracies have employed surveillance, but have managed to navigate the initial stages of crisis without significantly compromising democratic standards. In these cases, surveillance technology has been fenced in by democratic institutions and rule of law, and norms, institutions, and public opinion have worked together to facilitate pandemic responses that are (on balance) proportional, limited in time and scope, and subject to democratic oversight. This suggests that international relations may need to separate the pandemic's effects on democracy from its effects on liberalism, and that care must be taken to identify the precise mechanisms that link pandemic response to various components of liberal democracy.
The customary prescription for handling “problems without passports” is to work through international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), act collectively for humanity's future, and build up specialized knowledge. But around the world, patterns from the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic defied the prescription. IGOs were blamed, narrow or short-term interests were prioritized, and divided reactions to experts were on display. International Relations (IR) scholarship helps explain why: (1) research on bureaucracy and institutional design examines the challenge of making IGOs accountable to member-states but also insulated from them; (2) research on delegation and socialization explores commonplace problems involving time-inconsistency and credible commitments; and (3) research on epistemic communities and anti-elitism describes the rationale and fears of permitting public policy to be guided by unelected experts. The initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic reflect how the world can look when it lacks resolute leadership to overcome commonplace aversions to IGOs, to broader or longer-term interests, and to experts. Yet while IR scholarship makes sense of these patterns, it does not say enough about why resolute leadership wanes, or what to do about IGO performance when it does. Answers to such questions are crucial not only for recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, but for dealing with whatever global crises lie ahead.